EuroTrip 2013 | Italy Day 8: Listening to Pope Francis, Castel Sant’Angelo, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain

Watching Pope Francis speak at St. Peter's Square - he's at the top right of the building

Watching Pope Francis speak at St. Peter’s Square – he’s at the top right of the building

After our crazy thunderstorm episode at Vatican City yesterday, we decided to return again! But this time it was to see the pope address the Sunday morning crowd. We also finished up our visit of Rome by stopping by the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps.

By the time we arrived at St. Peter’s Square around 11:30, a huge crowd had already packed the entire plaza. The atmosphere was festive, even electric. There were nuns singing hymns, another group in a drum circle, and countless tourists and religious folk alike milling about, getting ready for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Huge flags from different countries floated around in the crowd. It almost reminded me of a music festival, except everyone was here to listen to the pope speak for 10-15 minutes.

After a wait in the blistering sun that felt like ages, we saw the pope appear from the apartments overlooking the square. The crowd went absolutely wild – one group waving a huge Argentina flag began chanting “Argentina! Argentina!” – the home country of the Pope Francis.

Even though I couldn’t understand the message, I did enjoy the pope’s presence and the crowd’s reaction. Looking around, it struck me that there were people of many nations, backgrounds, and religions, and it made me glad in that moment, a moment of unity and mutual respect.

After the 9-minute message, we headed out for the rest of the day’s activities. It was still scorching hot and by now it was early afternoon, the hottest time of the day. After turning a corner, we looked up and saw the outline of a huge castle, with a line of people outside. We looked at each other, checked the admission prices, and proceeded to take a detour from our original plan.

Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo, as it turned out to be, was originally an ancient Roman burial chamber that also saw stints as the Pope’s fortress and castle through the years. Visiting was a great choice because the underground chambers were cool and refreshing, with a sweet spiraling ramp that led to the ground floor. We also checked out the individual rooms, a decorated and painted library, and even explored the areas around the castle walls and other structures.

Up to this point, the weather outside was a hot 80-85 degrees. As we left the castle I glanced up at the sky and saw the dark clouds roll in. Memories of yesterday popped into my head, and then it started to rain, again.

We made a mad dash to the nearest souvenir shop and waited out one of the most intense thunderstorms I’d seen in recent memory (even more intense than yesterday’s, but thank goodness we weren’t stuck at the highest point of Vatican City this time).

Tossed a coin into Trevi Fountain!

Tossed a coin into Trevi Fountain – coming back to Rome!

The rain eventually let up and we stopped by the Pantheon (a beautiful marbled ancient building), Trevi Fountain (throwing a coin into it meant we’d come back to Rome someday), and Spanish Steps (no surprise, turned out to be a bunch of steps – I still don’t know why it’s famous).

After a nice pasta dinner and before we returned to our hostel, we made a quick stop at Ducati Caffe, where we enjoyed coffee cocktails, espresso drinks, and delicious desserts. And we didn’t forget the obligatory nighttime picture of the Colosseum!

Tomorrow we’ll be saying goodbye to Italy after a week and heading to Spain! We’re nearing the final leg of our journey, looking forward to more adventures in the meantime.

Stay tuned and read about my other adventures in London, Paris, Berlin, and Italy!

Steps taken: 22,866 | Miles walked: 7.57

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